July 10, 2018

Unauthorized Usage of Kosher Symbols on the Rise due to Business Factors

New York…Despite advances in technology including special kashrus APPS offered by kashrus agencies, the use of unauthorized symbols is on the rise. In a series of interviews by Kosher Today, the unauthorized use of the symbols fall into several categories. The most common case is simply where a symbol is included on packaging that may be outdated, transferred as part of an acquisition, or nonchalantly included without understanding the ramifications. Interestingly, most agencies and rabbinic sources do not attribute the hundreds of cases of unauthorized use to fraud or malicious intent. An increasingly common form of mislabeling is the letter D which indicates that the product is dairy, made with milk or whey, or was in fact produced on dairy equipment, which some kashrus agencies flag with a DE. While a company may change the formula of a product to include dairy, a common error is not to replace the label with a D. The Orthodox Union (OU) recently advised that Pringles was changing many of its products from a regular OU to an OU-D. The OU further advised consumers to check for whey or milk to ascertain the D status, but if it doesn’t say whey or milk, then it is assumed that the product was manufactured on dairy equipment. The OU uses D to connote both dairy ingredients and dairy equipment while several other kashrus agencies use the DE for dairy equipment.

Many of the kashrus officials say that while they faced many intentional misleading unauthorized uses, much of the mislabeling nowadays stems from business decisions either to add dairy, or as a result of a business deal.